Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Marriott HQ construction materials may reduce access to nearby Bethesda businesses

Demolition at the future site of the Marriott International headquarters and hotel at 7750 Wisconsin Avenue is now complete, according to developers The Bernstein Companies and Boston Properties. Underground utility work along the curb lane of Woodmont Avenue at the site is expected to continue for several more weeks. They do not plan to bag the parking meters on Norfolk Avenue this week, but if necessary, they will do that during work hours only. Deliveries of construction materials to the site could temporarily reduce access to adjacent businesses, but Bernstein and BP say they will alert those businesses beforehand, and try to coordinate with them.

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Southern MD woman disappears in Friendship Heights

A Clinton woman disappeared after leaving her doctor's office in the 5400 block of Wisconsin Avenue yesterday around 11:30 AM. Mia Rhinehart, 20, is described by Montgomery County police as an African American female, 5’3″ tall, and weighing 165 pounds. She has black hair braided in corn rows, brown eyes, and wears glasses.  Rhinehart was wearing a white shirt with a floral design, blue jeans, and a black, hooded sweat shirt when she disappeared.

Anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of Mia Rhinehart is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24/7).

Monday, September 24, 2018

Signs of life at Philz Coffee at Bethesda Row

There hasn't been much action at the future home of Philz Coffee at 7247 Woodmont Avenue at Bethesda Row. But now some new "coming soon" signage has been posted, suggesting work may be about to begin on the interior.

Myth that MCPS overcrowding was driven by old SFH neighborhoods shatters

The Montgomery County Council and Montgomery County Planning Board have been caught in three huge lies in the last few weeks alone. First, new plans to redevelop two public parking lots on the eastern border of Bethesda with Chevy Chase showed more housing development than the large, green parks promised when the Council and Board approved the Bethesda Downtown Plan. Second, their promise that "smart growth" and infill development would leave single-family homes untouched was exploded when Councilmember Hans Riemer proposed a Seattle-style mixed-use rezoning of all SFH neighborhoods, which would include accessory apartments, duplexes and quadplex boarding houses. Now their false claim that overcrowding in schools comes not from the massive new developments they have approved, but from old SFH housing stock, has been shattered.

The Washington Post recently reported that, in fact, townhomes have officially surpassed single-family homes in student generation. Meaning that, no, the large single-family homes in established neighborhoods are not driving overcrowding in Montgomery County Public Schools. This information was withheld from the public by the County until it was reported by the Post.

That fact joins my previous reporting that over half of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School's student population comes from multi-family housing. Multi-family housing is the majority of all new development being approved.
I had already debunked the fantasy that existing single-family homes in areas like Bethesda were the source of overcrowding, when I noted that family sizes in Bethesda have shrunk, not increased. The Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination drama has now led to the Post confirming my own experience growing up Catholic in Bethesda.

As I've written in the past, I could point out all of the houses on streets in the neighborhood where I grew up where large Catholic (and sometimes even non-Catholic) families with 4, 5, 6 or even 10 children lived. Most of those families are now gone, and have been replaced with the typical "1.5 or 2.5 kids" of today's "don't have lots of kids anymore!" society.

Hence, there is no way there are as many kids in these neighborhoods as there were in the 1950s-1980s. There just aren't.

But don't take my word for it. The Post on Saturday referred to this cultural phenomenon in its coverage of the Kavanaugh confirmation. "Like Kavanaugh, [Mark] Judge grew up in a Catholic Washington that formed its own social world, centered in the big old houses of Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Potomac...The big houses were perfect for large Catholic families, and the lives of kids and parents revolved around a core set of institutions - parishes such as Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac and Blessed Sacrament in upper Northwest Washington, and the private Catholic high schools within easy reach, such as St. John's College, Georgetown Visitation, Stone Ridge and Georgetown Prep."

Not only have the Council and Planning Board failed to even address the existing overcrowding of schools, and haven't even provided for the capacity needed in the Westbard and Bethesda Downtown sector plans, they are now irresponsibly proposing an even more-massive MCPS population explosion with their Seattle-esque rezoning of all County residential areas as mixed-use.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Bethesda construction update: Anthropologie & Co./Terrain Cafe at Bethesda Row (Photos)

Here's another exclusive sneak peek at the progress of construction inside Anthropologie & Co. and Terrain Cafe at Bethesda Row. All light fixtures and interior glass appear to be in place. You can also see a new staircase on the far right of the photo below.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Public meeting scheduled for Montgomery Women's Farm Market development

A required public meeting has been scheduled for the planned redevelopment of two Wisconsin Avenue properties around the Montgomery Farm Women's Cooperative Market, a historic property. Sketch plans proposed for 7126 and 7140 Wisconsin Avenue and 4705 Miller Avenue will be discussed at the meeting, which will be held on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 7:30 PM in the Cafeteria at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School at 4301 East-West Highway.
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The meeting will also include a plan to redevelop the public parking lots behind the east side of Wisconsin as mostly a seven-story apartment building and townhomes, with thin green parkland strips in back facing the Town of Chevy Chase. Not what the County Council and Planning Board vowed would be large, green parks - told you so! Turns out they lied again. Betrayed by the County Council!

Taylor Gourmet to close all locations after Sunday

Taylor Gourmet, the D.C.-area hoagie chain whose locations include Bethesda Row, downtown Silver Spring, and Pike & Rose, will close all of its restaurants at the close of business on Sunday, according to Washingtonian magazine. Among the reasons cited for the closure were financial troubles with landlords at some of their locations, expanding too rapidly, and a brief downturn in sales after owner Casey Patten participated in a 2017 business roundtable with President Donald Trump, who is unpopular in all of the cities where Taylor Gourmet operates.

The chain has not publicly commented on the closure report on its social media accounts as of press time. Taylor Gourmet had recently experimented with new menu items such as burgers, tacos and fried chicken sandwiches.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Moses African Cemetery presentation tonight in D.C.

Journalist Sam Collins will host a presentation on the Moses African Cemetery and history of the African-American community that once thrived on River Road near Little Falls Parkway tonight, September 21, 2018 at 8:00 PM at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe at 2714 Georgia Avenue NW in the District. The later actions of developers to force the black residents out and desecrate the cemetery in the 1950s and 1960s will also be discussed, as well as the efforts to establish a museum on the site to preserve this history and honor those buried there - a majority of whom now lie under asphalt and as much as 60 feet of fill dirt.

Dinner can be ordered from Sankofa's menu, which includes vegetarian and vegan options. It's recommended you arrive around 7:00 PM to ensure enough time to locate a parking space. The presentation is part of Sankofa's weekly series, "All Eyes on D.C.: The Movement Continues."

Gas pipe under Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Bethesda to be replaced in October

Earplugs may soon sell out at Bethesda stores, as yet another noisy project is poised to add to the nighttime cacophony next month. A Washington Gas natural gas pipe under Wisconsin Avenue will be replaced. The segment in question runs underneath Wisconsin between Fairmont Avenue and Commerce Lane.

Work will be performed at night between the hours of 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM, beginning in October. The contractor has requested a Temporary Noise Waiver from Montgomery County, so that the work may be done at night. Expect some additional traffic issues where the pipe passes through the demolition/construction zone for the Marriott HQ south of Norfolk Avenue.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

UNTUCKit coming to Westfield Montgomery Mall

Shirts made to be worn untucked will finally be available in Bethesda when UNTUCKit opens at Westfield Montgomery Mall this winter. The shirts, in a variety of styles for men and women, trim about an inch off the bottom of a typical shirttail. UNTUCKit will be on Level 2 by Sephora, in the Macy's wing.

In other mall news, Champs is undergoing a renovation at its current location on Level 2, also in the Macy's wing. They've opened a temporary location next to the AT&T store on Level 2.

Sweetgreen to open at Pike & Rose

Federal Realty has signed another big name to its roster of restaurants at Pike & Rose. Fast casual salad concept Sweetgreen will open between Burger Fi and Sunday Morning Bakehouse on Grand Park Avenue.
The restaurant will be in the ground floor of the Canopy by Hilton hotel/930 Rose condo building. Speaking of which, the Canopy hotel is really going full steam now. When I was at Pike & Rose this past weekend, cars unloading luggage at the front of the hotel were backing up down Rose Avenue toward Grand Park Avenue. 
Canopy by Hilton reviewer on TripAdvisor says the
Pike & Rose hotel "exceeded all expectations!"
License plates included New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And not necessarily the hip crowd the hotel is targeted toward, but families with kids, and the general tourist types. So it seems the hotel has become really popular since its opening in March. Canopy scores 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, 4.4 on Google Reviews, and I can't find a Yelp listing for it on Google.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Triangle Art Studios signage appears at the Cheval Bethesda condo tower

The vacant artist spaces in the neon alley behind the new Cheval Bethesda ultra-luxury condo tower at 4960 Fairmont Avenue are finally showing some activity. Triangle Art Studios logos have been stenciled on the doors of the units. The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District had advertised the spaces to local artists with a July 27 deadline earlier this year. Rents start at $855 a month.

Escape Quest finally moving forward on Fairmont Avenue

Escape Quest - it's not a story of Bethesda residents trying to escape 24-hour construction, but rather a new escape room attraction at 4936 Fairmont Avenue. Its opening has been long delayed since I broke the story about it in April. 

Now there are signs the Alexandria-based company is again moving forward. They have applied for a liquor license with Montgomery County. Their hearing is scheduled for October 18 at 11:00 AM.

For the uninitiated, escape rooms are a game set within a themed room where players must use their wits and puzzle-solving skills to figure how to get out within a time limit. Escape Quest's existing King Street location has rooms based on a lost Mayan temple, a pirate ship, and even a serial killer's "secret lair."

Perhaps a serial killer can bring some life to dead Fairmont Avenue. Escape Quest's Alexandria location has earned the title of "Best Date Night Ever."
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dior celebrity makeup artist event at Nordstrom Sept. 26 in Bethesda

Dior will be hosting a special celebrity makeup artist event at Nordstrom at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM, with special off-the-floor Master Classes at 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM. Dior makeup artist Ricky Wilson will join the Diorshow Traveling Team for a luxury event with complimentary appetizers and cocktails.

Wilson will demonstrate the new makeup trends for the fall season, and how to appear "ageless." Limited one-on-one consultations will be available with Wilson, and you will receive a special token of appreciation with purchase.

Call the Dior counter at 301-365-4111 to reserve your appointment now. Westfield Montgomery Mall is located at 4111 Democracy Boulevard.

Peet's Coffee to open in Friendship Heights

Peet's Coffee is coming to Friendship Heights in Chevy Chase. They will be located in a 2093 SF space next to MAC at 5330 Western Avenue in the Shops at Wisconsin Place. Peet's will have outdoor patio seating. The Shops at Wisconsin Place is also rumored to be the next home for Tabendeh, a jewelry store currently located across the street in Mazza Gallerie.
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Monday, September 17, 2018

New sign at Bonobos at Bethesda Row?

The sign was removed on the storefront of Bonobos at 4836 Bethesda Avenue yesterday. It appears a new one is being installed, but stay tuned.